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Charles Owens

You gotta love repeats.

If it wasn’t for the timeworn tradition of rerunning shows from years ago on television today, I probably never would have been exposed to a number of quality programs over the years. One, in particular, that stands out is the original “Star Trek.”

I understand it premiered in September of 1966 and ran until June of 1969 before being canceled by NBC. I had not yet been born at the time, and thus could not have seen the original run of this iconic series on television.

But through the magic of repeats, I think — now so many years later — I may have finally seen all 79 episodes of the original series.

I base that assessment upon the fact that now — every time a rerun of the original “Star Trek” airs on television — it is an episode I have already seen.

Of course, I’ve never seen the entire series in its original order, just repeats that are out of order. But it all make sense in the end.

••• 

I never considered myself a Trekkie.

I grew up with the Jedi, not the Klingons. All of the childhood books, toys and comic books I had amassed were from “Star Wars,” not that other science fiction show that aired on television before I was even born.

But as fate would have it, once the college years arrived, I ended up in a dorm room with a group of friends who made watching repeats of “Star Trek” a priority every night at 11 p.m. It wasn’t a fun experience.

Back then I wasn’t a fan, or even remotely interested in the adventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.

I instead spent most of that time on other projects, sometimes even homework, while generally not even looking at the television.

Honestly, I hated the show back then. Having to sit through the “Star Trek hour” night after night was simply a painful college experience.

But that was college. Did we really sleep back then anyhow? And you certainly couldn’t sleep when a group of friends would gather in your dorm room each night at 11 p.m. to watch some old television show from the 1960s.

But then something funny happened. Eventually, if you are forced to watch something long enough, you will normally develop an interest in it.

You see those same college friends also talked me into going to see all of the “Star Trek” movies that were released on the big screen.

Suddenly, I was a more willing participant, and even looked forward to all of the big-screen movies. Captain Kirk daring to ask why God needed a spaceship? Yep. Those old movies were good. And best yet, the Enterprise crew actually had bigger budgets to work with on the big screen that translated into better special effects and strange new worlds that were also a bit more realistic at the theater.

So I ended up watching all of the movies first on the big screen. Then through the magic of repeats I started watching the original series again — and this time actually paying attention — on the small television screen.

Now, I’m sampling the other “Star Trek” shows out there, having most recently finished season one of “Picard” and season two of “Discovery.”

Yes, the characters on “Star Trek Discovery” are as bland as the critics warned, and season one was divisive. Then Captain Christopher Pike, Number One and a younger Mr. Spock who is not yet in full control of his emotions showed up for season two, and the once lifeless “Discovery” suddenly roared back to life.

From the utilization of an episodic gimmick that allowed for a blink and you miss it appearance by the late, great Leonard Nimoy to Pike’s glimpse into the dark future that awaits his character, “Discovery” suddenly became must-watch TV, despite all of its continued faults.

So yes, thanks to a few friends from college, a television show that I once hated is now a favorite to watch. Even all of those repeats that I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen at least once or twice before are still worthy of a third or fourth viewing.

•••

Maybe, one day, I will find another repeat on television that draws me in the same way that Trek did.

Considering that much of what is on television nowadays is nothing but rubbish, repeats are about your best bet for finding quality programming.

In normal times, that would be illogical thinking. But is there anything normal about the world we now live in?

— Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens

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